Eight strong innings from Corey Kluber and a three-run fifth powered the Cleveland Indians to a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night from Progressive Field.
Pitcher wins have been devalued some in recent years, but that takes little away from Kluber’s effort on Tuesday, which secured him a career-best 19th victory on the year. He struck out eleven batters, his highest single-game K mark since April 9 (when he struck out 13 Tigers in his third start of the year). He ran into a brief bump in the road in the sixth inning, when the White Sox hit a pair of homers, but he otherwise contained the young and aggressive White Sox in his longest start since his August 4 shutout of the Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians tied the game in the sixth inning with back-to-back home runs, but left the tying run at second base in the bottom of the ninth in a 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
With a chance to potentially clinch the American League Central Division in the first game of a nine-game homestand, the Indians were unable to come through with a big hit in the ninth inning with runners in scoring position, continuing some recent woes in those opportunities. Tigers closer Shane Greene walked a tight rope in the final frame, giving up two runs, but holding the last runner at second to secure the win and the save.
Tampa’s Blake Snell made another impressive case in his bid for the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday afternoon as he shut down the Cleveland Indians with just one hit and one run allowed over seven innings in a 3-1 Rays win.
Still on the outskirts of the second AL Wild Card spot, the Rays got a big game from their left-handed ace, who took over the Major League lead in wins with his 19th of the year. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and left with a safe 3-1 lead, with his bullpen taking care of the final two frames to wrap up a disappointing 3-4 road trip for the Tribe.
Left-handed Twins pitching contained the Indians for seven innings and a three-batter outburst in the second provided Minnesota with all that they would need in a 3-2 win in Cleveland on Tuesday.
The Indians had no answer again for Adalberto Mejia, who shut down Cleveland for the second straight start. Carlos Carrasco kept the Twins in check for much of the night, but the first three batters of the second frame made the difference in the contest.
The Zach McAllister era in Cleveland ended two months earlier than anticipated, as the pending free agent was designated for assignment by the Indians on Friday to make room for the return of left-hander Andrew Miller from the 60-day disabled list.
Miller has not appeared on the mound in an Indians uniform since May 25, when he was tagged with his third blown save and third loss in six May appearances when he allowed three runs on two hits with a walk in two-thirds of an inning against Houston. It capped off a horrific month for the All-Star reliever, who allowed seven runs on seven hits with six walks and six strikeouts in just four and one-third innings. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 26 with right knee inflammation and was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 24.
The Cleveland Indians added to their outfield depth on Tuesday, claiming Johnny Field off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
With six games to go in May, the Indians were 9-13, suffering from on-going issues from their bullpen despite being the top scoring club in all of baseball at the time. Dealing with a tough stretch of the schedule, the team gave away several potential wins and struggled to show consistent playoff-caliber play.
As the calendar flipped to June, the Indians were 15-13. The offense was still producing. The starting pitching was still excelling overall, with some occasional bumps to be expected. The bullpen was still bad. That has not changed.
For seven innings, the Cleveland Indians pitching staff performed just as they had over the last year and a half, riding strong starting pitching before turning the game over to the reliable arms in the bullpen.
Unfortunately for the Indians, this is 2018 and that reliable relief corps has been anything but. With six outs to go, the Houston Astros rallied back from a 2-0 deficit through seven innings with a four-run eighth and then tacked on seven more runs in the ninth to embarrass the Indians, 11-2, at Progressive Field on Friday night.
Adam Plutko held the Chicago Cubs hitless through the first six innings of his second career start and an RBI-single from Michael Brantley provided the game’s only run in a 1-0 shutout by the Cleveland Indians from Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
The respective top scoring teams in each league during the month of May played their final game of the season against one another on Wednesday, but the two high-scoring offenses combined for just one run in a well-pitched ball game between Plutko and Cubs veteran Jon Lester.
Cleveland sports fans are going to want a do-over of Tuesday’s efforts.
While the NBA’s Cavs were falling two games behind the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals from Boston, the Indians blew two separate four-run leads and a five-run edge later, squandered several bases loaded opportunities, and saw the bullpen implode again in the late innings as a big lead turned into a close game and ended in disaster, as the Detroit Tigers rallied several times and scored the final six runs to win an ugly 9-8 final from Comerica Park.
Some games are hard to recap and Tuesday was a prime example. The Indians (20-21) got off to a great start in the first inning, giving Josh Tomlin plenty of support before he even took the mound. Given the fact that he had not pitched since May 4 and that he has been home-run-happy this season, a big early lead seemed imperative for the Tribe to have any sort of shot at success in the Motor City. They got it, but it would not be enough.
A back-and-forth game between the Indians and Royals went in favor of Kansas City as the visiting club rallied for six unanswered runs to defeat the Tribe, 10-9, from Progressive Field on Friday night.
The Indians (18-19) took an early lead and reclaimed it with a six-run fourth inning, but Cleveland’s pitching could not slow down the Kansas City (13-25) offense, which chipped away with runs in three straight innings to take the lead for good in the seventh on a big home run off of Andrew Miller.
Over the last two weeks, the Cleveland Indians have faced a harsh reminder of the significance that Andrew Miller has on the team’s success as the bullpen has floundered in his absence while he dealt with a left hamstring strain.
The relief staff can begin to settle back in to its old roles, or at least they can within a few more days, as the Indians activated their All-Star left-hander from the 10-day disabled list and placed fellow southpaw Tyler Olson on paternity leave.
Olson could be away from the club anywhere from one to three days as a result of his placement on the temporary list.